“I-“ Derek stopped almost as soon as he’d started. Cora looked up from her spot in the sand, stretched out on a towel in the heat – it was late afternoon and the sun was slowly moving down towards the horizon. Her eyebrow arched as she regarded him with a skeptical look.
“I think I want to go home.” He finally conceded, causing both her eyebrows to move upwards on her forehead. Not only he had inherited the very intense works of the Hale-brows.
“There is no home, Derek.” She scoffed and made to turn away from him. Derek rolled his eyes.
“I want to go back, then.” He said, staring out at the water.
“Back where? To Beacon Hills?” she sat up, watching his face as his brain worked.
“…yeah.” The word escaped him on a gust of air.
“Derek… there’s nothing for you there.” She pleaded, hand on his arm. He watched her briefly out of the corner of his eye before turning his gaze away.
“Isn’t there?” he asked cryptically. Both of them were quiet for a long while. They watched the kids playing at the edge of the water. The surfers that bobbed up and down further out. They sat there until the sun had almost disappeared behind the edge of the water, the beach was cleared and the chill of the evening had even them pulling on some of their clothes again.
“Stiles.” Cora said eventually. Derek’s head snapped up.
“It’s Stiles.” She said, casting a glance towards the water. “He’s the reason you want to go back.” She turned her head towards him, hands fiddling in her lap. “I saw it, you know? Even when you were with Braeden, you somehow gravitated towards him.”
Derek sighed; even though they hadn’t seen each other in so long, Cora still knew how to read him. He moved to cover her fiddling hands with one of his own. She took a deep breath and he saw how the tense line of her shoulders dropped. They looked at each other for a while.
“I won’t go with you.” She murmured, barely audible if it hadn’t been for his werewolf hearing. “I can’t go back there. I don’t think- I can’t-“
“I know.” Derek interrupted and Cora looked grateful. He hauled her into a hug which first had her stiffen, before she relaxed again and her arms found their way around his midsection, clutching at the back of the shirt he was wearing. “I’m gonna miss you.” Derek muttered into her hair.
“Yeah, yeah…” she mumbled back, but he smiled anyway. He knew what she really meant.
‘I’ll miss you too.’
“Yeah, I know, dad.” Stiles pulled the strap on his bag to keep it from falling off his shoulder as he pushed open the door to his apartment. He sighed and straightened up, dropping the bag right inside the door. “I won’t go anywhere alone, I promise. You know how-“ he stopped suddenly when his eyes made contact with Derek Hale.
A more open, very tan, very obviously different Derek Hale, but Derek Hale none the less. He was leaning against the edge of an open window in Stiles living room area, hands in the pockets of his leather jacket. His hair was longer and without product so it fell over his forehead, shadowing his eyes and he wore a bashful smile. He watched as Stiles flailed and gaped like a fish, almost hitting himself in the face. For all the work he’d gone through growing up and growing into himself over the past few years it was like all of it went away when he was surprised. He distantly heard his dad calling his name over the phone.
“-les? Stiles! What’s going on? Stiles?”
“I’m gonna have to call you back dad.” He said before ending the call. “Derek.”
“Hi Stiles.” Derek said softly. Stiles crossed the room until he was standing in front of Derek. His mind was spinning. Derek was there. In his apartment. He came back. He came back. He-
“You’re real…” Stiles mumbled, hand reaching out to come in contact with the front of Derek’s shirt and his solid chest beneath it. “You’re here.” Derek reached out, hand gliding along Stiles jaw and lifting his head so he could look into his swimming whiskey eyes.
“I’m here.” Derek whispered. Without warning Stiles launched, throwing his arms around Derek’s waist and burrowing his head into Derek’s chest with a sob. Derek put his arms around Stiles shaking frame and held him tight.
“You waited for me.” Derek said.
“You came home.” Was Stiles only response. Derek knew they would have to talk about it, but it could wait. At the moment, he’d rather just stay where he was.
“Yeah.” He croaked. “I’m home.”
“You’re leaving.” It wasn’t a question. Stiles stared at him, unnaturally still where he was standing in the doorway to Derek’s loft.
“Yeah.” Derek replied, still rummaging through the drawers in his dresser.
“Will you come back?” Stiles voice was smaller than he’d intended and it made Derek pause. He went over to the younger man, hand brushing over his cheek.
“Someday.” Derek replied. “Don’t wait for me.”
“Come home.” Stiles countered. They stared at each other for a while before Stiles backed up.
“I’ll try.” Derek finally conceded and Stiles nodded slightly.
“Me too.” He replied, before turning around and walking out.